When it comes to gifts for the holiday season, choose those that will save the recipient money.
We don't usually think about the long-term costs of gifts we give. With manypeople now trying to save money, make your holiday gifts more meaningful by doing so.
Many popular gifts drain money. If you buy someone an iPod, he or she will need to purchase music or videos. A video game console requires video games, of course. You do someone a double favor if you can find a gift that not only is something he or she likes but also a money-saver.
Many money-savers don't necessarily make good gifts. There aren't many people whose eyes will sparkle when they open up a pack of
or a water-conservation kit.
To make this happen, take an extra step and consider what
your loved one will incur. This is a wonderful practice because it's something you should consider for yourself when buying things. A little imagination helps. Here are a few examples:
It's not always wise to wait until appliances die to replace them. Improving technologies make newer appliances moreenergy-efficient. Surprising your spouse with a new EnergyStar-ratedwasher, dryer or refrigerator may seem like a huge, unexpected gift,but it can also save hundreds of dollars over its lifetime.
Books, magazine subscriptions:
If you know someone who loves toread, tons of personal-finance books and magazines exist to help him or her get a better handle on money. For others,cooking, home improvement and other how-to books or magazinesubscriptions may be right. They explain ways to do it yourself and save money in the process.
A basic tool set can be a wonderful gift, especially ifaccompanied with a basic do-it-yourself home-repair guide. The nexttime something minor needs to be fixed around the house, your loved one or friend will have the means and directions on how to do it.
If you know someone who has a yard that needs some work, plant a vegetable garden or a favorite fruit tree for them. That will help reduce the costs of buying fresh fruit and vegetables. Another great giftis to landscape their yard with only native plants, which can eliminatethe need (and cost) for watering.
If someone on your list ialwayscraves entertainment, a subscription to Netflix for a year can be aperfect gift. The recipient can watch his or her favorite moviesyear-round and will probably be less likely to spend money in other ways, too.
A number of useful memberships are out there. For example, a membership to a Costco warehouse club can save alot of money on bulk items, a membership to the AAAauto club includes roadside service anda lot of travel-related discounts, and a membership to a local gym canget the person to exercise and lead a healthier life.
If someone on your gift list loves gadgets,give something that also saves money. For example, Scan Gauge is a gadget you install in your car that gives information about gas consumption in real time, encouraging better driving habits.
For those who often find themselves throwing out food because it goes bad before it gets eaten, a food saver makes a great gift. These vacuum-pack foods so they last a lot longer and are an excellent way to allow for cooking in bulk, whichsaves money. The extra food can be stored and frozen for a later date,greatly reducing the time needed to cook as well as the costof making meals.
Coffee maker and thermos:
Have friends or family members who make astop by the local Starbucks every morning on their way to work? Aquality coffee maker with a thermos may be the perfect gift for them.Not only can they have a fresh cup of hot coffee waiting for them whenthey get up in the morning, they also can take a thermos-full to work.
Jeffrey Strain has been a freelance personal finance writer for the past 10 years helping people save money and get their finances in order. He currently owns and runs SavingAdvice.com.